Physical Health

I Am Moving, I Am Learning: Early Findings from the Implementation of an Obesity Prevention Enhancement in Head Start Region III

I Am Moving, I Am Learning (IMIL) is a proactive approach for addressing childhood obesity in Head Start children. IMIL seeks to increase daily moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), improve the quality of movement activities intentionally planned and facilitated by adults, and promote healthy food choices every day.

Select this link to read the full report: Efforts to Meet Children’s Physical Activity and Nutritional Needs: Findings from the I Am Moving, I Am Learning Implementation Evaluation–Final Report, February 2010.

IMIL 2010 Report on Implementation

The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) under the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) contracted with Mathematica Policy Research in the fall of 2006 to conduct an implementation evaluation of I Am Moving, I Am Learning (IMIL) in Region III. The purpose of this study was to examine how the 53 Region III participating grantees were implementing IMIL after attending the spring 2006 Regional Training for Trainers (TOT).

Each of the 53 programs sent a team of up to five representatives for a two-and-a-half-day training event. The trainers were expected to return to their home programs to help their colleagues develop and implement an IMIL action plan. A three-stage evaluation was designed.

Stage 1: A mail survey of the 53 Head Start programs that participated in the spring 2006 TOT event reported the following: 

  • Of the 95 percent of the programs that tried to implement IMIL in the year following the TOT, over 60 percent of those programs provided pre-service and in-service training on IMIL. The median amount of IMIL training provided was six hours (range one to 24 hours).
  • Programs reported implementing more activities related to moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and structured movement than nutrition.
  • Almost half of the programs perceived that they were successful in implementing IMIL. Enthusiasm of staff and the quality of the TOT event were the two most commonly reported factors contributing to the success of implementation.

Stage 2: In-depth telephone interviews were conducted with IMIL coordinators and two teachers/home visitors in 30 of the programs that returned the Stage 1 survey. Some of the findings in Stage 2 included the following:

  • Approximately 70 percent of the programs in Stage 2 reported engaging other organizations in the community to support implementation of IMIL. (i.e., WIC, Health Departments, local dance organizations).
  • Most programs purchased additional classroom materials or equipment to support implementation (i.e., Choosy CDs and posters, classroom props, and outdoor equipment).
  • Only 7 percent of the programs reported conducting activities that integrated movement and learning, which typically occurred during circle time or other periods devoted to reading, numeracy, or other learning domains (i.e., literacy, numeracy, body health, spatial awareness, and colors).

Stage 3: Site visits were attempted with 14 of the programs interviewed during Stage 2. These visits were scheduled for the late fall and early winter of 2007 to 2008 (November through January) when programs were in the second year of IMILimplementation. In addition to interviews with IMIL coordinators and other program managers, site visits included separate focus groups with teachers and parents and a classroom observation. The findings in Stage 3 included the following:

  • Staff members were active participants and role models for both the children and their parents in MVPA and healthy food choices.
  • Parents reported challenges in consistently being a good role model for physical activity and nutrition habits.
  • New challenges reported included the programs’ uncertainty about how to expand or sustain IMIL activities in the future.